Effective Policy Management: An Updated Guide

This in-depth policy management guide has almost everything you need to understand policy management best practices.

policy management

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A good system shortens the road to the goal ~ Orison Swett Marden

In 2017, AFL-CIO reported that US organizations experienced an average of 14 on-the-job deaths per day, according to its aptly named report—The Toll of Neglect. Those deaths occurred as a consequence of slacking policy management systems.

Recent studies (some covered in this guide) indicate organizations are losing as much as $500,000 on a single employee lawsuit. Copy/paste or rash policy and procedure management systems expose unprepared organizations to litigation, which goes on to hurt their bottom line, mar their market reputation, and dull their competitive edge.

It can be tough to keep up with fast-changing market trends and regulations. It may cost you money, time, and require consistent, concerted effort to keep an entire organization’s policies and procedures up-to-date and working the way they should.

There is a disconnect in many organizations about what needs to be done, by whom, when, how, and why, not to mention what follows after one stage of a policy or procedure is complete. This policy management guide will help you get your policy management system running—for you and not against you.

Don’t have time to read the entire guide right now?

Click on a chapter or subheading to select the most important sections to your organization below.

Effective Policy Management Guide – Index

Chapter 1: What is Policy Management?

Chapter 2: Do You Need to Consistently Manage Policies and Procedures?

The Challenges in Policy Management

Policy Management Benefits

Chapter 3: How to Effectively Manage Policies and Procedures

What is a Policy Management Framework?

Levels of Policy Management

Should You Have a Policy on Policies (The Meta-Policy)?

How to Choose and Implement Effective Policies and Procedures Models

Chapter 4: Policy Management Software

What is Policy Management Software?

Do You Need Policy Management Software?

Which is Better: Buying vs Building Policy Management Software?

What to Look for When Choosing an Effective Policy Management Software (and Software Vendor)

Conclusion: Where to Get the Policy Management Help You Need

Chapter 1: What is Policy Management?

What is policy management?

Policy management is the four-part process of covering all the bases when dealing with an organization’s policies and procedures.

The four parts making up the policy lifecycle are:

  • Creating
  • Communicating
  • Managing
  • Maintaining policies

We covered how to create effective policies and procedures as well as how to communicate them [in this in-depth post], so we’ll focus on why and how to manage policies and procedures here.

Since the terms “policy” and “procedure” are mistakenly used interchangeably, a quick recap is in order:

A policy is a guiding principle that gives the direction or basis for decision-making in an entire organization, a section of the organization, and down to every individual employee. A policy indicates what needs to be done.

A procedure, on the other hand, clearly gives the step-by-step outline of how to do what needs to be done. A good procedure document also gives the reason for doing things a certain way.

Understanding the differences between policy and procedure will help you decide the most effective ways to manage both.   

Entire organizations may be routinely slacking at encouraging, engaging, and enforcing effective policy and procedures.

The Toll of Neglect

According to AFL-CIO, there were 5,190 on-the-job deaths in 2016. Occupational diseases caused an additional 60,000 deaths in American workplaces. The authority found that, had the right policies on occupational safety, safety procedures, operation manuals, and procedures on what to do in case of an incident been in place and working as they should, many of those deaths could have been prevented.

The majority of workers do not know what to do in case of an incident at work. In 2017, WorkMobile found about 52% of respondents in their study did not even know they should report an incident to either their supervisor or the human resources (HR) office.

According to the same report, about 65% of workers did not receive an operation manual when the organization they worked for first recruited them.

Take a look:

20% of your employees have no idea of your policy and procedure for reporting incidents at the workplace.

According to a Rave Mobile Safety study, organization heads or employers did not follow up on whether their employees actually understood precautions, safety gear, appropriate procedures, and applied training as well as operation manuals said they should.

This is not just an occupational health and safety policies and procedures issue, no. It is also rampant in other areas of many organizations’ policy management system.

More recently, Navex Global also found this:

Well, that’s not good.

Clearly, there’s a policy management crisis in full swing, and it could be happening right on top of your desk.

Could it be your organization, company, division, department, or branch is in need of an overdue policy management evaluation?

A 2018 study found only 14% of respondents have an “advanced” policy and procedure management program. According to the Ethics and Compliance Policy and Procedure Management Benchmark Report by NAVEX Global, as many as 65% of 1,200 respondents have a reactive or basic policy management system. About 21% of respondents have a maturing policy management program.

The data shows about 84% of respondents’ organizations run the risk of regulatory non-compliance. That could mean increased fines, litigation, and possible sanctions which all add up to losses.

Are you struggling to make simple industry standards work in your organization? Do you have to repeatedly show your people how to do a particular task? Do they even know what to do in different situations or must they seek a supervisor’s consult?

There are just some of the tell-tale signs your policy management is overdue for analysis.

Chapter 2: Here’s Why You Need to Consistently Manage Policy and Procedures

Why do you need to consistently manage policy and procedures?

What do you have to gain from consistently ensuring effective policy management in your organization? Which challenges can you ace when you have an efficient way to manage policies and procedures?

The Challenges in Policy Management

First, change is innately unwelcome.

New or shifting policies mean some changes need to happen, which can create initial confusion and fear of the unknown in some quarters. The director of the Agency for Health Research and Quality and the State of Minnesota’s former Chief Information Officer, Gopal Khanna, concluded:

“Any organization that has been running tightly is going to have an attachment to the way things are done.”

He also stated: “If there were a magical way of bringing people to adapt to new processes quickly, we would all be better off.”

It is undeniable that a change in policy and procedure affects an organization’s culture, but there are effective ways to ensure the policy changes make a positive impact.

Second, you must follow-up with training. In-depth and continuous training. 

Policy changes require effective employee training programs to encourage implementation. The level of training will depend on the sophistication of the new policy and its intended results.

Only after offering the training can you ask your people whether they understand the new requirements. Consider testing your people’s understanding of the training. You can use Q&As or simulations.

Then make it a requirement for all involved parties to scribble their signature at the bottom of the policy copy. That is to provide proof they actually went through the training, aced the test, and understand the policy’s benefits as well as the consequences in case of non-compliance.

Furthermore, require attestation and annual recertification. This is especially helpful to organizations that have third-party services training employees on their behalf. You want to ensure your people agree that they continually get the quality training you are paying for.

Sample employee sign-off statement

Third, policy implementation can become a challenge due to a lack of or inadequate resources such as finances and technology as well as rapidly changing local and international legislation.

But passing over effective policy management because of these and other challenges may work things out of your organization’s favor. This can happen in a flash and be costly. 

Picture this:

According to a 2011 study on effective policy management in large (1,000+ beds), short-term acute care facilities as well as small (25 beds) critical access hospitals, there are a multitude of policies to deal with. The larger beds dealt with an average of 5,198 policies that required annual review and approval. Each policy typically required 1 to 4 approval steps (an average of 2.08 steps), with each step taking an average of 4.38 days to approve.

Small hospitals had an average of 1,450 active policies to review and approve on an annual basis. Compared to large healthcare facilities, small hospitals were slower policy managers, averaging 2-4 approval steps per policy (3.27 steps) and a 15.8 days’ approval period per step.

Now picture running such centers without a solid policy management system. There would be so much chaos, it would be practically impossible to achieve any positive results.

Yet, a large number of organizations’ policies and procedures’ categories look like this:

Image Credit: GSA

Too many categories, and each comes with one or more sub-categories, adding to the complexity.

It may seem like getting your policies and procedures in order is too much hard work. But consider the following recent stats:

  • In 2017, Hiscox reported it costs a small business an average of $160,000 to defend and settle a claim. That figure blows up exponentially when it is a larger organization involved in a lawsuit, where it is accused of a policy management issue.
  • An Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 211 senior executives revealed 81% and 89% of public and private respondents had suffered in various capacities due to a lack of effective policy management plan and implementation in the previous year.

Here’s what the results looked like:

Image Credit: Economist Intelligence Unit

From both findings, it is clear that the cost of not sprucing up your policy management system may very well dwarf the cost of putting in the effort necessary to ensure your organization’s policies and procedures cover all possible bases.   

Not only that, but there are more humongous benefits to putting in the effort required to effectively managing policies and procedures—including creation, proactive management, and continuous improvement efforts.

Policy Management Benefits

You do not have to suffer a policy management disaster to start getting your policy management strategy in order. In fact, there’s more to gain from investing time, talent, and resources into managing policies and procedures in your organization compared to the various costs it would demand. 

Here’s what you also stand to gain by consistently updating your policies and procedures:

  1. Defining Your Organization’s Mission and Vision: Set policy and procedures describe an organization’s shared vision, its strategy for getting there, and guides employee’s decision-making at all levels of management and operation. The organization gets to go from killing time repeatedly explaining what, how, and why things need to be done to gaining more time for creative and productive pursuits.
  1. Ensuring Regulatory Compliance: A policy document registry demonstrates the rules and regulations an organization has ingrained in its policy framework from regulators, how it aims to make them work, and the obligations involved. This way an organization can ensure compliance with all regulations required to operate within its jurisdiction. Updating policies means you can protect the organization from liabilities that could result from a policy you don’t have but should.
  1. Giving Precise Direction: Policies such as the Code of Conduct define how employees should behave, describing the kind of conduct that’s contrary to the spirit of achieving the overall company objective. Also, roles and responsibilities are delineated so everyone is accountable to specific tasks, knowing what to do, when, how, and what level of standard to maintain. That way, redundancy and overlap scenarios can be avoided and resources utilized more efficiently, boosting productivity while shooting down anarchy and wastage.
  1. Affording a Competitive Edge: When everyone knows what is expected, productivity blossoms. Effective policy management systems help collect feedback, monitor performance indicators, create informed policy document versions to boost continuous improvement, and cleanse an organization of reputation-damaging and bottom-line-hurting side-shows.
  1. Training: A one-stop point of reference for how an organization works can help new employees learn what is expected of them, understand the organization’s goals, know who to contact for further questions, and be clear on what standard of work to deliver, as well as feeling secure about organizational culture factors such as teamwork and appropriate dress code.  
  1. Rights and Responsibilities: A standard set of rules and regulations means everyone is governed by the same guidelines. For example, an organization’s code of conduct establishes expected behavior and the consequences that follow if anyone fails to live up to the requirements. Policies and policy management practices affect perceptions of justice in an organization as well as employees’ commitment, according to studies. Prudent policy management can help managers and supervisors avoid dispensing emotionally-charged or biased disciplinary action because they have a guiding principle to reference across all cases.
  1. Establishing Uniformity: without policies, there would be chaos because every branch, department, and stakeholder could do as they please, making the entire organization inconsistent and uncoordinated. Files and documents would be out of sync. Untargeted paper trails would make reporting a complex, time-consuming, and expensive procedure. Individuals would also be less accountable and uncertain of what they need to do and why.
  1. Managing Risk: By providing a framework within which to practice, an organization is able to exercise risk management, from occupational safety to cybersecurity. Policies can be proactive or reactive in this sense. Proactive policies curb the occurrence of a foreseeable risk while reactive policies are developed out of a need or lessons learned from an occurrence within or without the organization.
  1. Protect the Organization from Litigation: Policies such as the Terms and Conditions and Terms of Service help an organization avoid legal action. An employee lawsuit costs as much as $500,000 in the US—that is before attorneys’ fees and punitive damages—according to a 2013 Thomas Reuters (reported via Hiscox in 2015) guide.

These are just the most prevalent benefits of effective policy management. There could be more depending on the nature and goals of an organization.

Seeing the policy management benefits, what do you need to know to start your effective policy management procedure?

Read the next chapter for more on that.

Chapter 3: How to Effectively Manage Policies and Procedures

how to effectively manage policies and procedures

Are you wondering what steps you can take right now to have an effective policy management system?

Here are some policy management best practices organizations are prioritizing in 2019 to fast-track their policy and procedure management, according to the 2018 Navex Global Report:

Increasing policy awareness is a top priority for effective policy management and in many organizations.

Let’s dig into that term “management” to kick-off on a level pitch, shall we?

To understand the basis of effective policy management, start by considering what the originators of Management Theory meant when they defined the art.

Let’s take from two of the originators of management theory.

Mary Parker Follet said:

“Management is the art of managing things through people.”

Harold Koontz defined it as:

“…the art of getting things done through and with people in formally organized groups” in The Management Theory Jungle.

Henri Fayol had this to tip-off in his book; Industrial and General Administration:

“To manage is to forecast and to plan, to organize, to command, to coordinate, and to control.”

Policy management is, therefore, the practice of planning, organizing, coordinating, and providing leadership on effective policy creation, communication, application, performance appraisal, maintenance, and reviewing of policies and procedures in any organization.

Here is the thing, though:

You cannot manage things, get things done, or coordinate and control things you do not know. That’s why the first thing your organization needs to do to effectively manage policies and procedures is to exhaustively define its Six Ms in relation to policy management.

1. Define Your Six Ms in Six Sigma

What are an organization’s Six Ms?

According to Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa in his quality management theory’s Fishbone Diagram (Cause and Effect Diagram), there are six Ms in management:

  • Men (and Women): the human resource aspect of an organization
  • Methods: the art of doing what needs to be done to achieve the main objective
  • Machines: the tools and equipment the organization needs to make a product or provide a service in light of achieving an objective. For example, computers.
  • Materials: the raw materials needed to make a product or deliver a service
  • Mother Nature: the environment in which an organization is established, including climatic conditions and culture
  • Measurement: quantified observations of some aspect or attribute of a project, process, or product—the all-important basis for continuous improvement opportunities  

Here’s how it originally looked:

Now that’s how to get to the root of a problem.

The practice of modern management comprises two more Ms:

  • Money: also referred to as working capital, this is the funding needed to cater to day-to-day operations
  • Markets: the customer, what they need from the organization, and how to go about profitably satisfying that need

You can dig deeper to understand each M in a more resourceful way. Then you can learn how to create a Cause and Effect Diagram to empower your organization.

2. Create a Policy Management Framework Specific to Your Unique Needs

Once you’ve defined and analyzed your organization’s Ms, it’s time to set up a framework within which to work the information you have. That way, policy management remains a proactive, consistent, and effective practice in all areas of your organization with accountability driving it forward.

In his classic 1954 book, The Principles of Management, Peter Drucker, also known as the Father of Modern Management Theory, advised management also involves:

“…a multi-purpose organ that manages business and manages managers and manages workers and work.”

That “organ” and the “people” aspect referred to by Mary P. Follet and Harold Knootz, all have to do with managing policy in a framework—an organization-specific ecosystem that is largely about people, rules, and regulations.

And how can you create a policy framework that works in your best interests?

Let’s start by defining what a policy framework is and then discuss how to set it up and work it.

According to the University College Dublin, a policy management framework helps set up the standard and the procedures for developing, approving, implementing, and reviewing policies across an organization. It can also help establish consistency, compliance, and transparency in the policy management process with “reflexive stakeholder consultation and appropriate approval pathways.”

An effective policy framework will have three key components—especially for medium or large organizations:

i. A Policy Hierarchy

It is the definition and documentation that administers an organization’s way of doing things from the highest level of policy management to the lowest (precedence). Usually, the highest level is occupied by statutory law or legislation governing the entire industry within which the organization operates.

Take a look at this policy hierarchy:

Image Credit: Effective Governance

ii. Policy Creation and Development Process

The framework will also give details on how to go about creating policies and procedures, and providing supporting resources to ensure the policies and procedures created are implemented, integrated, and complied with. It will also give direction on when, why, and how a policy should be revised or scrapped.

iii. Defined Roles and Responsibilities

Assigning roles and responsibilities to certain individuals or entities in an organization ensures accountability. Make sure certain people are responsible for ensuring the policies, procedures, and other aspects of a policy framework are adhered to, continuously improved, and enforced.

In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists

~ Eric Hoffer

3. Create and Work Your Policy Implementation Models

What you’ve been doing before this stage is ensuring your business has the time, personnel, accountability, transparency, and goodwill to back up the policy implementation process. You’ve been setting up the skeleton, the structure to support your policy rollout.

You now have a workable policy management system, a warm engine that’s fired up and ready to go. But the plan is still on paper.

Time for action. Time to roll out a step-by-step model for implementing your policies.

A good policy and procedure model should complement how your organization works so it’s specific to its needs.

You’ll also want to make the model as simple as possible to avoid adding complexity to the entire policy management framework. Furthermore, it will be easier for employees to uptake than resist, faster to get started, and serve as a smooth transition for subsequent policy implementation steps.

Here’s a simple model to help you out:

Image credit: Complispace

Yes, it is a continuous process. Nonetheless, it starts from policy creation (blue bar) through to continuous improvement of your policies (gray). Notice how strongly the implementation and success of your system will depend on human resources. That’s why it is important to have a policy hierarchy in place from the start.

You can derive a more sophisticated model from there depending on your policy management needs and overall organizational goals.

Speaking of continuous improvement…

4. Crank Up Your Policy Analysis Method

To ensure your policy management system works, you’ll want to have a meticulous policy analysis and review procedure in place. Policy analysis will help you figure out whether you need a new policy, have to update an existing one, or if you should cut something out entirely.

Start with a typical Six-Step Policy Analysis method, which involves:

  • Verifying, defining, and detailing the root problem
  • Establishing policy evaluation criteria
  • Identifying alternative policies that could work better
  • Assessing those alternative policies
  • Displaying and distinguishing among the alternatives
  • Implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the settled-on policy

From there, you can break down each step.

Make the policy analysis process detailed—describing precisely what needs to happen before moving on to the next step.

That might feel like a lot of work, but that is only at the beginning, after which you can save more time, energy, and other resources using the already-established guide. Yet, you can always outsource the task to a professional policy management service or consultant if you choose.

Alternatively, consider using the following policy analysis methods to see if they work better for your organization than the six-step method:

  • McRae and Wilde
  • Patton and Sawicki
  • Quade
  • Weiner and Vining (Problem Analysis and Solution Analysis)
  • Urban Institute
  • Stockey and Zeckhauser
  • Hill

Whichever method your organization chooses, the underlying steps are almost identical to the ones in the Six-Step Policy Analysis Method.

Now that your staff knows what to do to evaluate a new or existing policy, you do not want them haphazardly changing policies and procedures for the fun of it. So, what can you do to ensure the people in charge of policing changes only create beneficial, needed changes?

Create a solid meta-policy.

And that leads us to the next crucial task on your policy management system creation process.

5. Create a Policy on Policies (The Meta-Policy)

A meta-policy is the chief guiding principle that oversees an organization’s policy process.

You can use a meta-policy to provide overarching guidelines such as when to create a new policy, why and when to update an existing one, who must be involved to pass a new policy, and also to describe your policy drafting and approval process.

A policy on policies curbs rogue ethics and compliance managers or team members from maliciously changing policies and procedures or failing to effect change.

Image Credit: Mitratech

A good meta-policy will lead the different entities in your organization to discover which rules and regulations to keep and which ones to change based on specific reasons—legislation, for example.

Policies also need a legally, financially, and ethically responsible entity to keep track of what’s new and beneficial in the industry, which policies no longer hold relevancy and benefits, and to guide the entire policy creation and management process through a formal approval procedure.

That can be your board, policy office, or a policy oversight committee.

A policy on policies also ensures:

  • The board knows when a new policy is required
  • That board gets to know which procedures to follow to assess intended benefits as well as vet and approve new policies
  • All organizational policies are established, applied, monitored, and reviewed intently and consistently throughout the organization
  • Policy documents (newest policy document versions) are centrally maintained in an effective document management system
  • Guidance on who else can create policies other than the board (such as a Policy Oversight Committee) and in what circumstances
  • The establishment of precise timelines for policy establishment, application, monitoring, review, and updates 

Everything you have done this far—creating a meta-policy—has led you to this point.

With your policy framework and implementation model in gear, you’ll notice it is simpler to standardize many aspects of your policy lifecycle. That means your organization has recurrent tasks you can automate to a digitized system to inject efficiency into your policy management effort.

And that’s where choosing the best policy management software can be an investment rather than a fancy new program that just adds complexity to your system. 

Chapter 4: Policy Management Software

Policy management software

Policy management is about measuring the performance of and continuously improving policies, whether new or old.

To successfully do that, you have to monitor your policies’ performance, research and record relevant happenings, securely store lawsuits/investigations documentation, provide further training and attestation to employees, and encourage continuous improvement.

That’s where policy management software comes in. 

What is Policy Management Software?

Imagine this:

  1. Companies lose as many as 7.5% of all documents for good, according to data from IDC.
  2. Also, employees waste over 20% of their time searching for lost documents or manually correcting errors in existing documents.

Policy management software is a computer program designed to help an organization create, organize, automate, communicate, and update policy management processes, procedures, tasks, and documents. With the digital solution, it also becomes easier to backup and secure policy- and procedure-related documents so your employees can become 21% more productive.

It can be web-based, in the cloud, or a local installation.

Policy management software is one of three types of policy management solutions with the others being legacy and hybrid programs.

A legacy solution involves using physical files and folders—not digitized. That means it demands manual documents’ versioning, workflow tracking, auditing, distribution, and storage. Policy deadlines and timelines monitoring, policy searches and procedure reviews are tough, expensive and time-consuming to conduct.

On the other hand, hybrid solutions combine a digitized policy management system with a legacy solution. The digitized end of things eliminates the downsides of the legacy system but comes with extra costs such intranet setup, training, and professional maintenance.

Do You Need Policy Management Software?

Let’s take the 2011 Shahid N. Shah case study on large and small healthcare facilities (discussed above), shall we?

A large healthcare facility has to deal with an average of 10,812 policy approval steps per year, taking a minimum of two steps and up to four days per approval. A small healthcare center deals in 4,742 approval steps annually, taking about three steps that can last as long as 16 days.

Clearly, tracking the policy approval process is of utmost importance in both cases.

Here’s more: According to the report, a large hospital’s staff makes 3,743 to 10, 961 policy searches per month. Small centers’ staff conduct up to 238 monthly searches.

What does that mean?

Either staff needs to have a centralized policy management system to help them access and consult their health center’s policy and procedure information when and where they need it.

With a specialized policy management solution, you can:

  • Assign policies to respective owners or stewards for maximum accountability
  • Manage underwriting rules, document templates, claims, and endorsements
  • Integrate with various policy management solutions, adding more valuable features and customization to an organization’s platform
  • Automate the process of dispersing policy change news
  • Integrate your billing system with your organization’s terms and conditions, privacy policy, and/or returns policy among others

Here’s what else choosing the best policy management software can help you accomplish:

  • Help standardize an entire policy management system as opposed to using many different categories of policy and procedure management items/entries.
  • Automate repetitive aspects of policy management such as certifying attestation, policy documentation, process documentation, checking policy expiration statuses, policy creation, and implementation timelines, scheduling tasks, and adding new legislation to the system from both internal external sources.
  • Encourage ubiquitous access, for example, using mobile phones and remote computers.
  • Support speedy policy distribution and access since it acts as a centralized policy library for an entire organization.
  • Help set up communications to happen via quick notifications and alerts instead of emails.
  • Help organizations to secure policy libraries using passwords. Allocate the passwords to the people overseeing the system so you know who and where to investigate in case of a compromise.
  • Store all documents, tasks, and reports in one place that is also easy to access via a decluttered and easy to navigate dashboard. Additionally, users can set up a tag function to quickly find specific information on a particular policy or procedure at any time.
  • Seamlessly link employees to both internal and external learning management systems.
  • Back up your policy documentation, plans, and progress in the cloud, which is cheaper, more convenient, and more efficient compared to manual filing.
  • Easily maintain an accurate system of policies and procedures that are easy to audit and collect details from in an investigation.
  • Easily, quickly, and consistently update obsolete policies and procedures without convening meetings because a policy manager simply needs to edit documents of interest in real-time.
  • Leverage the scalability of a web-based policy management program.

Now that the benefits of getting one of the best policy management software are clear, how do you go about choosing the best for your specific needs?

Which is Better: Buying vs Building Policy Management Software?

The Case for Building:

  1. Organizations building from scratch get a system that is just the way they want it, including required branding and communication channels.
  2. Considering each organization is unique, building provides a tailor-made solution that is in line with the needs of a specific organization. Ready-made software can have a lot of features but ones that are not tailored to a specific organization’s use case—which mean lots of bloatware.

The Case Against Building:

  1. In most instances, customization comes at a higher cost compared to buying a ready-made solution.
  2. ii.              Building from scratch often takes a ton of time to implement with no guarantees of timely delivery or delivery at all.
  3. Additional features and future updates can be expensive and possibly require a major system overhaul. The original software vendor may be the only service provider capable of fluidly recalibrating the system—a danger in case they close shop or change industry focus.

The Case for Buying:

  1. Buying organizations get the solution they need quickly, more conveniently, and with less hassle.
  2. A demonstration of features-at-work can be arranged as opposed to the case of waiting for build completion.
  3. Policy management software providers offer both free and paid ongoing technical support.
  4. Ready-made software is typically made for the “masses,” which means regular updates and security patches for users.

The Case Against Buying:

  1. Ready-made solutions are generic, so may not apply as well in one organization as in another.
  2. When those features fail to apply in a specific organization, they become bloatware. Keep in mind that your organization paid for that bloatware.

Weighing the two options against your specific needs can help you decide which suits your organization best.

How you choose the best policy management software for your organization will also depend on that analysis.

What to Look for When Choosing an Effective Policy Management Software (and Software Vendor)

Some factors to consider to find the right policy management software include:

  • Providing policy writers with standard policy management templates
  • Ability to access a master index of all entered policies and procedures, with a search function so authorized users can quickly locate and retrieve a policy 
  • Ability to track who has or hasn’t read and confirmed a policy by a specific deadline
  • Ease of use and workflow intuitiveness
  • Ability to counter duplication while allowing users to use custom policy names so a version is easily discoverable
  • Robustness of the solution’s policy communication channels. For example, via text messages to pre-selected policy managers instead of via emails 
  • Provided security benefits such as password-only access. For example, not allowing a policy to apply if all stakeholders haven’t confirmed and approved the change
  • Workflow collaboration capabilities
  • Policy version controls and having the ability to archive unused or rarely used policies
  • Policy reporting, documentation, storage, and backup capabilities
  • Ability to automate standard or repetitive policies and procedures
  • Reporting capability for auditing and incident investigations
  • Ability to cross-reference policies internally and externally
  • Available policy review tools such as surveys, last review dates, notes, policy review reminders, and deadlines
  • Attestation testing and certification to ensure employees know their responsibilities and can prove they have read and understood them, respectively
  • Policy management software budget—including training and system maintenance costs

Then you can confidently handpick a few policy software vendors to get a free demonstration.

In this way, you can assess and envision how each of the vendors’ solutions can apply to your organization. After that, you can make an informed decision on which solution best suits your organization’s policy management needs.

Policy Management: Conclusion

Policy management is an essential part of every organization regardless of size or bottom line. It starts with the creation of well-thought-out policies and procedures through to implementation and consistent review and updating.

Prudent policy and procedure management can help protect an organization against litigation, non-compliance fines, mistrust from stakeholders, and a plummeting bottomline. When everyone in an organization knows their roles and responsibilities, productivity and accountability are more likely to blossom while inefficiency drops.

Using policy management software can also help boost the effectiveness and efficiency of a policy management system. As a master index of all updated policies and procedures, in one place, the software helps speed up access, consultation, and review of policies and procedures at any time while safeguarding the information from third-parties.

Still feel like policy management is a necessary evil instead of a beneficial, long-term investment in your organization’s well-being?

Still feel like you need more help creating, managing, and maintaining an efficient and effective policy management system for your organization?

Download our free checklist to optimize your policy management system. It’s a step-by-step guide to getting started and going full-throttle.

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